Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: William H. Wilmer to Hugh Nelson, [before 2 February 1820]


William H. Wilmer to Hugh Nelson

[before 2 Feb. 1820]

Dear Sir,

This will be handed you by Monsr Calvo, Professor of the french language. His object in waiting upon you, is to obtain an introduction to his Excellency Mr Jefferson of Monticello, who, he understands, is Patron of the Central College, & who, probably, might be disposed to favour his admission as a Professor in that Seminary. I have but a short acquaintance with Mr Calvo, but as far as I have known him, I believe him to be a gentleman of very amiable manners & exemplary conduct. Not being, myself a proficient in the French language, I cannot, of course, say much upon that subject: but from the little knowledge I have of it, & the general satisfaction he has given here, as a teacher, I believe him to be well qualified to fulfil any promises that he may make in that branch of science. I have, therefore, taken the liberty of introducing him to you, that he may have an opportunity of submitting his pretensions to the department which he wishes to fill: which, hoping that you will readily excuse, I remain, very respectfully

yr obedt Sert

W. H. Wilmer

RC (ViU: TJP); undated; addressed: “The Honble. Hugh Nelson House of Representatives City of Washington” to be delivered by “Monsieur Calvo”; endorsed by TJ: “Calvo. to be professor of modern languages.”

William Holland Wilmer (1782–1827), clergyman and educator, was born in Kent County, Maryland, and attended Washington College in Chestertown in that state. He began a career as a merchant before being ordained into the Episcopal clergy in 1808. Wilmer was appointed first to Chester Parish in Maryland and then, in 1812, to Saint Paul’s Church in Alexandria, where he became a leader of the evangelical revival of the Episcopal church in Virginia. Wilmer promoted theological education, founding the Society for the Education of Pious Young Men for the Ministry of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1818 and encouraging the creation three years later of a short-lived chair of theology at the College of William and Mary. In 1819 he founded and for seven years edited the Washington Theological Repertory and Churchman’s Guide, and he authored The Episcopal Manual: or an Attempt to Explain and Vindicate the Doctrine, Discipline and Worship of the Protestant Episcopal Church (Philadelphia, 1815). Appointed chair of systematic theology, ecclesiastical history, and church polity at the newly established Protestant Episcopal Theological Seminary in Alexandria in 1823, three years later Wilmer became the president of the College of William and Mary and rector of Bruton Parish Church in Williamsburg. He died soon thereafter in that town (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, 20 vols. description ends ; David L. Holmes, “William Holland Wilmer: A Newly Discovered Memoir,” Maryland Historical Magazine 81 [1986]: 160–4; William Meade, Old Churches, Ministers, and Families of Virginia [1857], vol. 1; William B. Sprague, Annals of the American Pulpit [1857–69], 5:515–9; American Beacon and Norfolk and Portsmouth Daily Advertiser, 26 July 1827; gravestone inscription in Bruton Parish Cemetery).

John Calvo, a native of Lyon, France, taught French in 1819 and 1820 in Alexandria. In 1821 he married in Charleston, South Carolina (Alexandria Gazette & Daily Advertiser, 8 Mar., 25 Aug. 1819, 29 Sept. 1820; Charleston City Gazette and Commercial Daily Advertiser, 19 May 1821).

Index Entries

  • Calvo, John; identified search
  • Calvo, John; introduced to TJ search
  • Calvo, John; seeks position at University of Virginia search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Correspondence; letters of application and recommendation to search
  • patronage; letters of application and recommendation to TJ search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; faculty applicants search
  • Virginia, University of; Faculty and Curriculum; modern languages professorship search
  • Wilmer, William Holland; identified search
  • Wilmer, William Holland; introduces J. Calvo search
  • Wilmer, William Holland; letter from, to H. Nelson search